The execution of Daniel Lewis Lee on July 13, 2020 ended a 17 year informal moratorium on federal executions of prisoners on death row. Since July 13, three inmates have been executed in Terra Haute, Indiana, and two more executions are scheduled for August 26 and 28. Two more federal death row inmates have been scheduled for execution in September 2020.
The Catholic Church has, for many years, spoken against the use of the death penalty in communities with developed criminal justice systems. The Church, since 2018, now affirms a clearer teaching where the death penalty is inadmissible. (read more here)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church's recent revision of #2267 states: recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
In light of this teaching, and in the face of the continuing federal executions, Catholics in Indiana are asked to contact federal legislators to encourage them to work on eliminating the use of the federal death penalty.